Want to help clients understand the value of a service without spending hours chatting in the exam room?
Throughout each day, the veterinary team may feel like they’re performing a balancing act: They must strive to stay on schedule with appointments and client communications, while at the same time avoiding making a pet owner feel rushed on important decisions. This is true for so many different diagnostic and treatment plans that could be presented to clients, but today we’ll focus on x-ray studies—specifically, on how to improve acceptance rates for teleradiology consultations.
A teleradiology consultation is a non-invasive, affordable way to add value to patient care and the client experience. These consultations can improve accuracy, prevent abnormalities from being missed, and even serve as a learning experience for vets who submit consultations regularly. But to gain these benefits, clients must understand the value and approve of the service. To improve compliance for teleradiology consultations, it helps to focus on consistent messages, setting up client expectations, and a smart pricing strategies.
Take a Team Approach to Consistent Communication
Consistency and reinforcement are important when it comes to communication. That means having the entire team send the same message to clients. In other words, if a teleradiology consultation has been recommended by the vet and vet tech, the customer service representative should also reinforce the recommendation if the client asks them about it. On the other hand, inconsistency creates doubt. Make sure the whole team understands the importance of consistency. Answer any questions the team may have about products or services so they can feel enthusiastic and confident in their recommendations. For example, make sure everyone on the team knows what a teleradiology consultation is and why it’s being recommended.
Set Up the Client’s Expectations
When it comes to client communications, it’s best to let clients know exactly what to expect. In other words, convey the benefits of any service, including a teleradiology consultation. But also let clients know the limitations of a service, so there are no surprises later. For example, explain how a radiologist’s input helps provide a high level of care to a pet. Since clients are used to radiologists reading x-ray studies for themselves, they may have an inherent understanding of the service for pets. But it never hurts to explain the benefits in detail, such as how having an expert second set of eyes can help ensure nothing is missed and possibly discover lesions that are seen less commonly. When it comes to limitations, let clients know that sometimes radiographs don’t deliver all the necessary answers, and that further diagnostics may be needed. Setting up appropriate expectations helps to build trust, as well as to improve client satisfaction with the services provided. While this may seem like a lot to go over, practicing with a script or talking points can help make this conversation easy and second nature over time. Having informative handouts (or web pages) for clients to refer to can also help make communication easier.
Smart Pricing Strategies Can Help With Compliance
To avoid client “sticker shock,” many veterinary practices itemize the different components of the diagnostic or treatment plan. For example, on an x-ray study, there might be separate lines (and separate charges) listed for the first two views, then any additional views, then sedation, teleradiology, etc. Itemizing the prices helps to break up that final estimate so a client can see exactly where their money is going. However, some experts recommend avoiding this itemized approach and instead implementing a package price that only shows the total (yes, even at the risk of inducing sticker shock!).
An itemized estimate can inadvertently encourage clients to look at the recommendations as “a la carte”—as items they can pick and choose from (and try to decline to save on costs). With package-based pricing, on the other hand, the message is clear that EVERYTHING on the plan is recommended, and it all goes together. Each included product or service within the package could still be listed, so the client can see the value they are receiving—but the individual prices of each line item would not be listed. Only the total price would be listed.
Veterinary team members are smart and talented, and each day they face the unique challenge of not only using their medical knowledge, but also effectively communicating that knowledge to pet owners. If teleradiology services are new (or underutilized) at your practice, it can help to use consistent messages, setting client expectations, and smart pricing strategies to improve compliance and maximize the value received from investing in a teleradiology service.
Editor’s Note: Looking for an affordable teleradiology service with no minimum requirements and fast turnaround times? Find out how we can add value to your practice, here.